Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shiny Horses

A lot of riders seem to mistakenly believe when they're first starting out in the show ring that they need to cover their horses in Show Sheen to give the coat a nice shine. These Show Sheen-covered horses arrive at the ring with a patchy, unnatural shine that doesn't compare to the other horses. So what's the difference?

It might surprise you to learn that those glossy coats don't come from products like Show Sheen. I rarely use Show Sheen on the body. If I do use it, it's usually just to cover up some unevenness in the coat from a skin issue or other problem. As far as I'm concerned, Show Sheen only belongs in the tail!

So how do those top show horses get that glossy coat? It's a combination of elbow grease and good health. A healthy, pain-free horse on a good feeding program should have a naturally shiny coat. Good grooming will really bring out that shine, but it really does come from the inside out. If, despite a good feeding program and lots of grooming, your horse still has a dull coat, reach for your phone to discuss it with your vet instead of reaching for the bottle of Show Sheen. A dull coat could be caused by ulcers, worms, or other health problems like Cushing's Disease. Covering the dull coat up with a hair polish will never make up for an underlying health issue.

Let's say that your horse already has that healthy sheen and you want to really bring it out for the show ring. What should you do?
  • Don't bathe your horse with shampoo too often. Soap will strip away the natural oils that make your horse shine. That being said, make sure that your horse is perfectly clean for the show. Any little bit of dried sweat left over on the hair will dull the coat and you will need to bathe your horse until the water runs completely clear. Try to reserve the soap baths for the day before your show and just wash with water the rest of the time so that you don't dry out the skin.
  • Get yourself a good curry comb and rub! Currying brings the oils to the surface and nothing will shine your horse up better than consistent, daily currying.
  • Brush off every last bit of dust. Any amount of dust or sand in the coat will make it look duller.   
  • Finish off with a soft towel. Rub your horse with a towel, going with the hair growth. This will remove any last bits of dust and ensure that the individual hairs lie down evenly to best reflect the light.
This routine can take some time to take full effect. Keep it up and you will be rewarded with a beautiful, shiny horse that will be the envy of the horse show! 

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